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Exploring the cities in New Zealand you must see

by Catherine Carey | September 22, 2023
Auckland city center at night

To travel to New Zealand, it is to travel to a country full of  breathtaking natural beauty distributed in two main islands: the North Island and the South Island. In both Islands you will be able to experience the rich Maori heritage, vibrant culture, and amazing natural spots.

Are you traveling to New Zealand? Are you wondering what are the cities you must see? Then continue reading this list of the cities in New Zealand you should see when you travel to New Zealand.

Cities in New Zealand to see

There are plenty New Zealand cities to explore during your trip there and things to do in New Zealand, but here are some of the most important ones divided by island:

North Island


Wellington is a must see city since it is the capital of New Zealand, it is a big city in New Zealand and it has multiple cultural and historical sites to see. 

There you will find New Zealand’s Beehive and Parliament House, New Zealand’s national museum Te Papa Tongarewa, the National Library of New Zealand, the Zealandia eco-santuary and the National War Memorial. It is especially beautiful to explore the Wellington Waterfront which is a picturesque area with stunning views, walkways, parks, and a variety of restaurants and cafes. It's perfect for a leisurely stroll.

Any fans of the movies like "The Lord of the Rings" or "The Hobbit," a tour of Weta Workshop is a must. You'll see behind-the-scenes magic of film production.

There you will also be able to enjoy New Zealand’s coffee and craft in a series of vibrant restaurants and bars. Due to all these reasons, it is one of New Zealand cities you won’t regret seeing.


Rotorua is situated on the Taupo Volcanic Zone and it is a city with breathtaking landscapes ranging from geysers to relaxing mud pools. 

We recommend seeing Te Puia which is a geothermal reserve. In Te Puia, you will see the famous Pohutu Geyser and bubbling mud pools. In Rotorua, you must also see the Whakarewarewa Forest (Redwoods), Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Rotorua Museum and Lake Rotorua.

In Rotorua you will also learn about Traditional Māori culture, for example, through the Mitai Maori Village. Local tribes are keen to share their history and legacy. Go there and discover all about the Māori culture and their festivities and traditions like the traditional hangi feast.

Cities in New Zealand: Rotorua in new Zealand


Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand and one of the most touristic ones in New Zealand. Some activities to do there are going skydiving or whale watching, hiking an ancient volcanic cone, stargazing from the International Dark Sky Sanctuary of remote Great Barrier Island and seeing the vibrant multi-cultural centre ringed by beaches, bush and sparkling harbours. 

As the largest city in New Zealand, there are plenty of other things to see in Auckland. A must-see in Auckland is the Auckland War Memorial Museum where you can learn about Maori culture and see the a large collection of Māori and Pacific Island artifacts. If you are into museums, you should also see the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki located in the heart of the city. This gallery houses an extensive collection of New Zealand and international art.

The Sky Tower is another building to see in Auckland since you will have 360-degree views of this city in New Zealand. 

Lastly, explore its shops, restaurants and bars, and theater shows. The Viaduct Harbour is a lively waterfront area with restaurants, bars, and marinas. We recommend it to enjoy a leisurely stroll and a meal with a view.

South Island


Christchurch is the city to see in the South Island because it has beautiful heritage attractions, scenery and modernism. Embark on a tranquil punting journey along the Avon River, meandering through the heart of Christchurch. Afterwards, immerse yourself in the lush oasis of the renowned Botanic Gardens. Serving as a global portal to Antarctica, Christchurch offers a captivating glimpse into the world of Antarctic exploration at the International Antarctic Centre.

In addition, you will be able to see lots of parks, museums and galleries and go ballooning, river-rafting or trekking in the nearby countryside. Remember! You can  explore the city by cycling or using the Christchurch Tram for a fun way to get around.  

 Christchurch is a city in New Zealand


Queenstown is renowned for having stunning mountainous locations and making one of the most beautiful scenes in New Zealand. Queenstown is also referred to as the Adventure Capital of the World due to its wide range of outdoor activities and stunning natural scenery.

It is one of the best New Zealand cities to go skiing, bungee jumping or zip-lining, paragliding or mountaineering.

In addition to these activities, you can walk, take a picnic, and practice some water activities at Lake Wakatipu. You can also take the gondola to the top of Bob's Peak for breathtaking panoramic views of Queenstown, the Skyline of Queenstown and the surrounding mountains.

And, if you are into Burgers and are a foodie, you should try out Fergburger. There you can sample Queenstown's famous Fergburger, but be prepared for long queues. 


Dunedin is the last city in New Zealand that we are going to mention in this list of cities in New Zealand to see. Dunedin is known as the Edinburgh of the South, and has a lot of Scottish heritage.

Dunedin boasts some of the finest-preserved Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the Southern Hemisphere. Embarking on a city walking tour unveils the rich narratives behind its historic edifices, including the iconic Dunedin Railway Station, alongside vibrant street art and captivating galleries.

The opulence of Larnach Castle transports you to the world of Victorian Dunedin, while a visit to Toitū Otago Settlers Museum allows you to step back in time to the city’s early days.

Venturing out from Dunedin, the rugged Otago Peninsula beckons with its extraordinary wildlife encounters. It hosts the world’s exclusive mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross, along with colonies of fur seals and enchanting New Zealand penguins.

Dunedin Church in Dunedin New Zealand

Largest cities in New Zealand

If you want to visit the biggest cities in New Zealand, here is a list of them: 

  • Auckland (1.7 Million People) 
  • Wellington (542,000 People)
  • Christchurch (389,300 People)
  • Hamilton (179,900 People)
  • Tauranga (158,300 People)
  • Napier and Hastings (148,000 People)
  • Dunedin (130,400 People)
  • Whangarei (100,500 People)
  • Palmerston North (90,400 People)
  • New Plymouth (87,700 People)
  • Rotorua (76,800 People)
  • Queenstown (16,000 People)

New Zealand Visa

In order to visit all the fantastic cities we have just mentioned, you will most likely need to get a NZeTA. If you are eligible for the NZeTA travel authorization, which is available for over 60 nationalities, you can apply for it online. This is for people traveling to the country as tourists. You might need other New Zealand entry requirements before traveling to New Zealand. 

If you are traveling for other purposes or wish to stay longer, you will have to apply for a visa, so make sure you know all How to get a New Zealand visa for other types of visas.